Monday, October 11, 2010

Parody and Satire: My Old Flame

Spike Jones and His City Slickers: My Old Flame


I hope everyone knows who Spike Jones was. I grew up listening to his music, which, along with Tom Lehrer, was the closest we got to kid’s music in my house. But I realize that other people may have been raised differently. Spike Jones was a band leader in the 1940s and fifties who specialized in parodies of popular songs. My Old Flame is a perfect example of his method. For one verse and one chorus, Jones plays it straight, giving the listener a taste of what the original song sounded like. But then, all heck breaks loose. The music changes abruptly to a sort of mutant Dixieland. And the lyrics go completely off the rails, to humorous effect. Here, a mock Peter Lorre takes over the vocals, and he has trouble containing his unusual urges. This one turns up sometimes on Halloween compilations, so it seemed appropriate. I should note that Spike Jones’ songs may seem like simple novelty numbers, and it is easy to dismiss them as such, but there is actually a high degree of musicianship involved.

Incidentally, the image above is the cover of the album as we had it when I was growing up. However, following the purchase link will take you to an album with a different title and cover; it is the same album repackaged.

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